Ludington City Council January 24, 2022: Cold Truths About Law Dogs and Smoke Eaters

The Ludington City Council met early in the evening of January 24, 2022, while the snow continued to fall.  Despite the weather, only one official was absent, City Manager Mitch Foster, whose absence was not explained.  Yet, the agenda was so light in action items and in controversy that more could have probably stayed home.

Other than setting a committee of the whole meeting, which they decided to do for Thursday, February 10, at 6:30 PM, rather than the February 3rd time on the agenda, their only other actions were to accept playground equipment from the old Lakeview School (courtesy of the White's who bought the property), and to accept a bid for the removal and relocation of the playground equipment from 'Play Environments Design'. 

There was only just their one bid, and it was for just under $45,000 to do the work, which seems on the high side considering that they will primarily just be removing equipment from concrete anchors, removing the concrete, moving the equipment, pouring new concrete anchors and setting the equipment up.  One thinks the City's own DPW could do the transport work more efficiently and one of the local concrete contractors could give better value and assuage any liability issues the City might worry about.  But these are the same guys who just approved nearly $300,000 to fix a purposeless finger pier, so they wouldn't care to listen about saving money for the taxpayers.

The first person to speak this evening would be Mike Kuhn speaking on behalf of the American Legion Hall who was looking forward to some of this equipment enhancing their existing public playground, reminding the councilors that the immediate area would be down two playgrounds (at Lakeview and Franklin Schools).  I followed, describing how the city had failed six women victims

XLFD:  "This is the best agenda I've seen in quite a while.  The action items are effectively figuring out what to do with gifted playground equipment and nearly a million dollars in federal money, so let's keep this trending.  

Allow me to speak for six women, all victimized by four events occurring in the Third Ward of Ludington.  There were common perpetrators acting in each of those four incidents.  One, a health care professional, watched her boyfriend be unlawfully arrested by a couple of peace officers, she reached down to pick up his cell phone which had dropped to the ground.  The officer kicked at her for doing so,but missed because she wasn't that close to him.  He would later lie on the witness stand repeatedly about what happened that day.  For that act she was arrested and is being prosecuted for felony resisting and opposing.

Another woman, who runs her own salon, playfully slapped her boyfriend on the back of the head, an act witnessed by three peace officers who decided to arrest her for domestic violence, breaking a lot of department protocols when doing so.  The "victim" argued in the woman's defense after he was aggressively detained and handcuffed by the peace officers, who saw nothing wrong with their unnecessary violence in the process.  Regardless, she was jailed and prosecuted.  

Another young woman, spending a night at a local bar with her dad, had her eyelid split open by bouncers.  Responding peace officers seen the damage, detained her, and charged this woman with blood running down her face and fresh bruises running down her arm with a crime which the bar's own videos do not support.  She's still being prosecuted, however, while the violence admittedly initiated by the bouncers was approved by responding officers.

The last incident involved three respectable women walking across a marked crosswalk, where they were hit by a truck that never slowed down for them.  Security video shows the women deep in the crosswalk well before you can see the truck approach.  One of those women hit were killed, the other two had significant damage.  The driver stopped and gave out information to peace officers.  Over three months later, that driver has never been detained, arrested, or prosecuted for her failure to yield the right of way to these three women, causing death.  

The common denominator in these four cases of women being victimized in the Third Ward of our fair city is that the local police and prosecutor are acting in concert to thwart the ends of justice.  I welcome any official to research and openly debate the facts in each of these cases.  At the end of every year, this city council pays a heap of taxpayer dollars to hire the prosecutor to act as our criminal attorney.  One could reasonably ask whether that payoff leads to a conflict of interest when it comes time to either charge or not charge crimes against these six women victims, victims of our police department and justice system. [END]"

I have previously talked about all of these in some detail in the Ludington Torch, except for the third woman, who I honestly can't believe is being prosecuted for being assaulted and bearing the fresh wounds when the police arrived.  In her case, the body cams illustrate an incredible bias on behalf of the responding LPD who commiserated with the bouncers and ignored the words of the father and daughter as they were detained and taken to the hospital and jail.  The bar's cameras show that they had done nothing untoward before the bouncers picked a fight with them.  The bouncer admittedly assaulted her dad first after reportedly being offended by something he said.  Another appears to have lied about being hit repeatedly with a beer bottle by the daughter.  I will be having much more on this incident later, once the prosecutor actually fixes a charge on her or sensibly drops it.

Did I expect the assembled officials to address these issues during or after the meeting?  Definitely not, I fully expected them to heap compliments on a police chief that allowed all of these to happen without interference, just like they have done in the past.  They didn't do that either, however, and it was surprising given that my second comment lightly revisited these half dozen victims while looking at somebody who was a convicted perpetrator of felonies on multiple occasions, Ludington Fire Department's new firefighter Austin Billings.  

XLFD:  "The six innocent women victims I described in my first comment, must be contrasted with a man who joined the Ludington Fire Department in October.  Court records show this man started off with some juvenile offenses, where he pled guilty to Larceny in a Building and Minor in Possession back in 2009.  by 2012 he was being found guilty of two drug felonies, Minor in Possession, and receiving and concealing stolen property.  In 2013, it was Breaking & Entering w/o owner's permission, the following year it was three drug counts, fighting, and disorderly person. 


In 2017, he elevated his goals with four drug counts, 1st degree home invasion, and aggravated assault.  He plead guilty the following year, effectively admitting he broke into a romantic rival's house, and assaulted him while he slept.  

This man has a deep history of violent encounters, invading homes, drug possession and drug use.  A FOIA response confirms that Fire Chief Henderson thought he would be such a perfect candidate for the Ludington Fire Department that he hired him without conducting any sort of background check, without holding any formal interview, without showing any deference to the local victims, or without regard to marring the reputation of America's most respected profession. 

While our police and prosecutor-for-hire go after ruining the lives of three innocent women and failing to prosecute the motorist who recklessly drove into three others, our fire department hires a career criminal who fails to list some damning felonies on his application-- but is hired anyway.  If you can't debate, can you at least explain?  [END]

Again, no explanation or debate was expected, and those expectations were met fully.  When the City of Ludington allows someone like this to serve on their fire department, we begin to understand why rule-breaking officers on the police department are being protected by the City after they carelessly introduce three innocent women to a prosecuting-friendly prosecutor's office and try to ruin their lives in the process, and then failing to do anything to ensure that a careless driver who ran into three other women receives punishment.

The clerk informed those assembled that four people had satisfied petition requirements for serving on the charter revision committee, and they will be on the ballot in May, along with the up or down vote on whether they will have a job if elected (i.e. a vote authorizing the committee is on the same ballot). 

Nine people are needed for the committee which means that anybody who wants to qualify for the remaining five positions must file as a 'write-in' candidate by 4 PM on Friday, April 22.   Contact the city clerk for the proper form. 

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Thanks, X, for making a rather otherwise boring January CC meeting interesting. I always find your analysis with depth and wit. As far as the irritating selection of the new firefighter, it is unexplainable and seems irresponsible to me to allow him to tarnish the force. As far as the city council silence on the issue, I'm not sure if that is the reference to "Smoke Eaters" in your title, I'll have to look up that etymology.  I'm wondering if smoke goes in one ear of the council and out the other?  They should be inflamed, incensed and hot, and someone should answer.  Maybe Mitch Foster went out of town to put your criticism in his pipe and smoke it. No explanation--you'd think there could be something made up by the master of ceremony

Interesting and thoughtful analysis as usual. Thank you for standing up for Ludington. I hope you apply to rewrite the City Charter.

Got it! I didn't realize that Firefighters are sometimes referred to as "Smoke Eaters." Makes sense because billowing black smoke can get thick enough to eat? Thanks to all who do with courage respond to disasters.

Mitch Foster was on WMOM radio on Monday morning in person, looking healthy enough.  Since I would expect that if he was doing something 'more important' in his official capacity, that he would be recognized by his peers for doing so, I suspect that he was busy at home with his other side-occupation of being a new father since the council workload was light and the weather was crappy.  

Local firefighters and police have got together to play hockey for charity at the WSCC ice rink, at least from 2014 to 2019 (pre-Covid) in the "Law Dogs vs. Smoke-eaters" game.  Cops and firefighters are generally the cream of the human crop, that's why we should expect the best out of them and ask questions when it appears that some have not lived up to the high standards of the profession and continue to point it out if they don't self-correct.

Thanks for that report X. If it wasn't for you the citizens of Ludington would not get the full story of what goes on in local government. Be careful, that newly hired hot tempered recruit may just make you his next victim. Just wondering, is that photo of the person standing in front of the Council a picture of you? If so, is that a hat on your head or your hair?

Thanks for the compliment and the advice, I shall endeavor to watch my back since I do not think I made any new friends in the police or fire departments by my comments at this meeting.  

Yep, that's my hair, I washed it that afternoon and it seems to have a body all of its own in the way it is growing back.  I always hate to get my hair cut when the weather's about ready to be at its worst, so you'll see it thickest here in January and February.  The camera filter gives my hair a golden hue, I do not mind that since it's mostly white like the snow.


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